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the iranian or the midden eastern arab spring, and the american election, and the third is the pleasuring of -- blurring of fact and opinion. we lived in an era require to this where we thought there was a clear line between when journalists were presenting factual information from a neutral or fair perspective and when we were hearing opinions. that has broken down and those three changes we think have been driven by a variety of things, not the least of which is the technological revolution with we have undergone. >> host: professor, have we lost important gatekeepers of news in your view? >> guest: i think that is one of the central themes of the book, which is that we now live in a world that we call somewhat nerdly multiaxiality. what we mean by that term, the
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ways in which information can become public information and paid attention to by a lot of people is much more fluid, there are many more gates than there used to be. i argue you don't need gates because the walls have come down. so where we get information from, what becomes newsworthy or important, what goes viral is very different from what used to be the case. in the period just prior to this era. the other point we're trying to make is that we can't just compare what we have now to what preceded the 50 years of broadcast news. if you look more historically we have actually had four or five different media regimes, as we call them in which the relationship between the media, citizens and political elites, have been different, and so if we want to assess what is good or bad about the current environment, we need to look not just at what we have lost or
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gamed compared to broadcast news but what we lost or gamed compared to the era of realism in the 19th century or the partisan press, in the late 18th century. or the progress receive era. so, we have really gone through these changes before, and the issue in front of us is not, is it good or bad? what's good about it, and what's bad, and how to maintain what is good and limit what is bad. >> host: let's go to the historical set of your book. what have we lost in this new era as opposed to the abc, nbc, cbs era. which is an era. >> guest: i think we lost significant things -- i should say lost -- you made the point that we have been talking about this for 20 years, we are style transitioning so those stations, those news networks still exist. but when we lived in an era, which we did in the '50s and ' 0s, and all the way up to the '90s where we as a society,
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wees a citizens, believed that if we watched the local news and then the national news, an hour or so period in the early evening, that we would have the information we need basically to be good citizens. and what we have lost by not having that is the authority that comes with gatekeepers. somebody whose job it is to sift through all the information that happens and all the things that happen in a day in a 24-hour period, and say, okay, what -- we're professionals, we are going to tell you from all this information what we think you should be paying attention to. so we lose that. and that's a nice thing to have. and we lose the fact that for the most part, at the height of the broadcast era, the vast majority of the american public was thinking about the same set of issues. we were a community. for better or worse were we all thinking about the issues that
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those three stations and a few major newspapers and magazines were telling us were the things we should focus on, and that allows for focus and agenda and allows for us as a community of citizens to think about issues in a kind of -- and all have the same basic underlying understanding it. >> host: what have we gained in this new era? >> guest: well, let me start by saying the downside to the system that i just described, which is if that handful of journalists and editors and producers and stations got it wrong, if they didn't emphasize something that is important to a lot of people, or they got their facts wrong, or they were presenting something even as they attempted to be neutral and objective in a way that was biased, we all got that. so we moved -- we sink or swim with three networksworks and a handful of other major news outlets. in this environment everybody is watching everybody else if you want to think of it that way.
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that there's no single authoritative source so we lose that sense of, we're install agreement. also means there's real opportunities for voices that in the past were not heard, for topics in the past would not have made it on the national agenda to actually make it on to the agenda and to become important because someone other than that handful of professional journalists told us it was important. >> host: do you feel we're better informed today than we war 20, 30, 40 -- >> guest: that's a really interesting question. i would say we're still in a transitional period and the potential for being more informed is greater now than it used to be, but in all honesty there's no evidence that we are better informed. i also do work in the area of what people know about politics, and the current evidence suggests that at best we're about as informed as we were in the broadcast era, and at worst we may be in a situation -- this is one of the downsides of the
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new information environment where people who care about politics are better informed because they're so many places s to two, -- to go, but there are so many places to opt out of politics so people who don't care about politics, who want to watch entertainment purely in their 6:00 to 7:00 time frame, if they're still watching television in the normal way that we used to watch it, those people can opt out of politics entirely. so the positive potential is we can be more informed about more things than we ever wore. -- ever were. the downside -- we're arguing both these are possible -- the downside is we can have a population of very informed people and people who are completely opting out of politics entirely. >> host: when you look at the current information revolution that we're all living through right now, is there a comparable period in history? >> guest: not that's been completely comparable.
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that's the important point we make in the book. while we're peering to the past we think it's really important to realize there are things that are different. there's never been an opportunity for average citizens to be producers of information like we have today, and never been an opportunity for people to go to multiple sources, globally, than it is today. and for the agenda to be a national, even a global agenda, without the news media being responsible for it. but we have certainly had periods of partisan press so we think of fox news and msnbc, the fact they seem more enamored of their ideological views than the facts that underlie them. we have gone through a period very much like that where newspapers and other broad sheets were alived with one party or another. said so right up front and actually argued for or against particular points of view. we have had the equivalent of --
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the online gossip columnist of politics, in the 18th century there was a man who did exactly the same thing in newspapers. so we have had that experience. we have had experience where the lines between news and entertainment were completely blurred. so the front page of the newspaper in the 19th century might have a news story, might have an opinion piece, might have a poem, might have a list of what is coming in on the latest ship in the harbor, and looked more like a web page than a newspaper we were familiar with in the 20th century. so we have experienced pieces of all of this. what we haven't experienced is all coming together with this new technology that we have. >> host: what are your main news sources? >> guest: that's a really great request. i depend on a lot of sources. i tend not to watch the three broadcasts and when i do it's more in my role as an academic
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to see what they're doing. i will watch the cable news shows, usually flipping between cnn, fox, and msnbc, partly because i want to hear what's happening and also because i want to hear how they're spinning it, what their views are. probably by the time i get home atneath i already know the major stories because i'm getting e-mail blogs from friends or i'm connected to various web sites that will present breaking news as it comes. i will turn my view -- my views tend to be on the more progressive side so i'll reading thises like slate or the huffington post. what i think i do, even if i try to separate the parts i do because i'm an academic, and that i do as a citizen -- is kind of what we suggest in the book, which i think we need to be news grazers. we need to sample from different sources. i should add in that list the daily show. i'm a regular viewer of the daily show. >> host: what's the important of the daily show in your view?
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>> guest: i think right now the daily show, and to a somewhat lesser extent the core rather report speak truth to power and do a great job highlighting the important issue office the day and critiqueing both journalist and the political system on their -- the honesty and straightforwardness and accuracy with which they present information. so i use it almost as an ombudsman of the political and media area and it's funny. >> an michael x. deli car pin any is our guest. you mentioned you tend toward progressive views, and look at the huffington post, slate, et cetera. are we in a period also of stove piping our views?
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>> guest: there's a lot of evidence that's happening. a lot of evidence that readers and viewers now are gravitate towards news outlets that are most similar to their own, and so if you look at the viewership of fox news, tends to be more conservative. msnbc, more liberal there are some people who do the grazing i described or that will go and watch something that is different from what they believe. which can be an enjoyable part if you're a political junkie, but there is evidence of people beginning to separate themselves out and fragment themselves into audiences that kind of create what catherine jamesson is here at the school call echo chamber, where you're hearing views you already agree with. what i think is the great promise for breaking that are all the places we go to where we're not looking for news but have newsworthy information in it sort after 9/11, whatever web site you went to, there --
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whether it was a sports web site or an entertainment web site, there was people talking about real world events. you go online because you have somebody in your family that has health issues and you want to find out more before the what the diagnosis might be, what the prognosis might be. you bump into information that hells you about health-related policy and leads you quickly into public issues and political issues. so, my hope is that, number one, people will attend to different points of view. there's evidence we don't do that as much as we would like. number two that this larger information environment provides opportunities where you're really interested in something, to almost accidentally bump into political relevant information that can be useful for you as well. >> host: who is your co-author? >> guest: bruce williams is a full professor at the university of virginia in the media studies program there, and someone that i have worked with for quite some time. we actually went to graduate
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school together at the university of minnesota. and bruce and i have been working on this. the first discussion about the idea of maybe writing something on this topic took place over 20 years ago when we first began to notice these changes. >> host: of what are you most excited when it comes to news dissemination today? what gets you going? >> guest: well, i think it is the opportunity for voices that have been outside the media agenda to speak, to be able to be heard. the greatest, most recent example of that, there is a debate as to what role it played still -- is the arab spring. no doubt the arar spring was generated by years of concern of the public about their political freedoms, desire for more freedom, economics, but the
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ability to develop, organize and spread, i would argue, is a direct result of the able of people through mobile technology to both speak to each other and organize and share ideas and thoughts, and to speak to the outside world. so, even when journalist have no access, there was information coming out. information that needed to be -- information that drew attention to issues that would have been quiet. that happens all the time at more subtle ways. the various communities in the united states that are often times ignored because of class issues or because of race issues or because of gender issues now have a powerful ability to get their message out, and i think that's is what gets me most excited. but it's a more confusing world. it requires more to really understand and assess information. i still think weed in gatekeepers and need professional journalist to help us with this but i think it's a
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more chaotic and exciting world, small d democratic world as a result. >> host: in ten years from now will u.s.a. today, the wall street journal, new york times, washington post, it's, be around and as important in our world? >> guest: i think that's a hard question. i could be wrong. but my guess is that they will not be around in any form that we recognize. i'm less concerned about that than i am are professional journalists around. so we have to separate out the method by which professional journalists operate, how do they share information, what organizes do the washing for, what provide of information do they provide, what form, is it on the web or in paper or on television? i'm less concerned about that than i am, do we have an economic model and the will to make sure that in the mix of places we get information, there's a place for people who are -- whose job it is, who get paid and who have the training
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to help us sift through information, and that they will be one voice among many that affect the way we think about and learn about the public world. >> host: is that one of the main questions your students ask you? >> guest: you can imagine that's true -- well, first of all, often times the reaction i get, especially from undergraduates, is, so? because the world we're describing is a world they grew up with. i mean, the first year students that arrive at school like penn were born in, what 1992. they grew up with this world. and so it's less -- it's almost as if they want to know more about what the old world that you and i would think of as the way the media operates was like than try to understand this new world we're in. but bus we're a communication school, they are obviously thinking, many of them are inside being journalists. when -- they're not in journalism school but want to contribute to society through communications and the media. so i think their issues are,
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where do i do that five years from now, ten years from now? >> you're watching booktv on c-span2. we have been talking to the dean at the university of pennsylvania whose most recent back is "after broadcast news. media regimes, democracy, and the new information environment." dean michael x.delli carpini. thank you for being on book tv on c-span. >> my pleasure. >> we're here with tim gay,
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author of assignment to hell. tim, why these five men during world war ii? because they made such an incredible contribution not only to wartime journalism but to the journalism that came after the war. all five office these guys made a profound contribution to the journalism that really defined our childhoods and our adulthood. it's not just cronkite and not just roon road-rooney, because of their success with cbs, but what journalism was. lieb ling, who wrote a great column criticizing the press and assessing the press' role in port war america, and hall boyles, 0 who ended up when hi finally retired from ap, in the early 1970s, to have written
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words for that great wire service than any reporter in its history. so all five of these men were in the war theater in the european and pacific theater. >> they sure where, and they were together. cronkite, and rooney as very tender aims covered the air war against nazi germany when that was about the only meaningful action going on in the european theater against hitler. so from december 1942, for about the next year, cronkite and rooney, bigert, were together almost every day covering the bomber boys and their incredibly brave missions over nazi germany. they were among the first handful of reporters allowed to fly along on a b17 and b-24 bombing mission over germany, which they did in february 1943, very early on. they were three of the charter members of what is known as the
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writing 69th. a fraternity of reporters trained by the eighth air force to nye along on bombing missions. >> host: how much journalism experience did each have? >> very wet behind the ears. cronkite was a fuses and was guy and for the kansas city ub text. boyle had only a little bit more experience than that. rooney had never written a real news article in his life before the joined stars and stripes in the fall of 1942. bigert was basically a metro text, city desk reporter for the new york herald transcribe bound that had never really distinguished himself. of the five the only one with real credentials was a.j. liebling, and he was a failed newspaperman. he found his niche writing essays, bull -- but all five guys found themselves and really defined journalism for america
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during the war. >> host: they've had been older, more established, would they have been in the theater? >> guest: yes. for the most part the guys who were assigned to the european theater were young, like crone excite rooney, but there were experienced reporters as well. what that experienced, the way they were able to capture it, they way they were part of the war, to define their lives and define their careers. >> walter cronkite, a book was written about crop cite, and talked about cronkite's reports from vietnam during the evening broadcasts. did cronkite and rooney and the rest -- did world war ii shape their journalistic career? >> guest: sure did. the reason cronkite was able to go to vietnam with some deference and credibility is he had experienced world war ii and then later korea from the front
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lines. so when he -- after the tet offensive in january of 1968, when cronkite went to vietnam and concluded the war was not winnable, the war object advertise had gotten so murky it was hard to remember exactly why men were fighting and dying in vietnam. i think that gave him real resonance in the country, and he knew he had a bully pulpit, and he used it sparingly in his career. but one of the times he used it was vietnam. >> host: did you get a chance to speak to any of the journalists' family or andy rooney? >> guest: maroonie passed away a year ago this time. thanksgiving time of last year. he could not have been more generous with his time. sat down with me for two three-hour long interviews. his sons and daughters were just terrific. cronkite's children were also great. and then all the various relatives of the other five were all just terrific.
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>> host: we've been talking with tim gay, author of "assignment to hell." >> guest: thank you very much.
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i want to you today about my book,strom thurman'smer, and i want to begin by telling you a story, my strom thurman story. when you go and do research in south carolina and you go into archives and people ask you what you're writing about and you tell themstrom thurmond, they
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say, let me tell you my story. you can't throw a stone in south carolina without hitting somebody with a great story about strom thurmond. so my story about strom thurmond bulletins in late july, 1992, and i'm on a flight from washington, dc to charlotte, north carolina. and i'd been an intern that summer up on capitol hill. and one of my regrets of the summer was that i had never seen strom thurmond. all my fellow interns said, you got to see strom thurmond. he is such an unusual appearance about him. and i didn't know what they meant really about that. but i had my suspicions. so i'm on the flight, and i look ahead in front of me and see a man who has these orange colored hair, practically. so brightly colored, and first generation hair plugs, and shows
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you how slow i am. i think to myself, that must be what strom thurmond's head looks like and of course it was strom thurmond. nye that when people were trying to shake his hand. i wanted to shake his hand, too because i'd been in d.c. that summer for the first time, and i'd met all of these politicians i'd seen on tv. it had been a great thrill and i was about to go home and speak to my dad's rotary club and i wanted to tell about the famous people i met in washington, dc. so i was there trying to shake his hand, when i got off the plane, about as i got off the plane where there are people already lined up to shake his hand, and i didn't get in line. and i didn't -- i was thinking -- i wasn't a cob sit opportunities, -- constituent, and i didn't have anything to say, and i was a little self-conscious. there were a lot of people there and i felt self-cop shoes about
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standing in line waiting too great a man best nope for his segregationist harangues. so i thought it was good enough to say i had seep him and keep walking. but i -- i'm conflicted, though. and i walk down the counsel course about 100 yards and i look back and here everybody had dissupposed, and here's this 89-year-old man at the time, he has a suitcase -- a briefcase in one hand and a travel bag in the other and a package under one arm and just shuffling down this busy crowded airport. without thinking i go back' introduce myself and say, my i was on capitol hill this summer. i'd be happy to help you get to your next flight. he said are you sure you have enough time? i don't want to delay you. i said, no, i have plenty of time. so i picked up his bags and we walked together for ten minutes and i was just trying to make conversation with strom thurmond, so i told him about all the people met that summer and he said nice things about
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the various colleagues i had met. i told him i was on my way to -- i had a girlfriend in south carolina and i said some silly comment about south carolina girls, i guess because he it's the kind of small talk made. and i got him to his flight and shook his hand and that was it. but i thought about the story a lot as i was writing this book. that story is a metaphor for the difficulty i had in writing about this -- the challenge that i faced in writing about this various controversial figure. there's no easy or straightforward way to write about a figure as controversial as strom thunder thurmond, and sometimes in writing this book i wondered if this is not an effort on my part to carry his baggage. goodness knows he has baggage
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that needs carrying. the real challenge i had in this book was to fight the urge not to kind of simply walk away and not meet the man face-to-face and present him as a kind of three-dimensional character. so real, living, breathing human being. so that's the challenge i faced. what i wanted to do, really, is to write a book about -- write a history of strom thurmond's america, and in a way -- in a critical but dispassionate way, way that would shedlight on issued that have shaped each of our own americas today, and i hope you can add a sense of -- a measure of reason and dispassion to these issues that embroil our politics today and that divide us so. that was the goal. that's been missing. but what are the big issues? what are the issues that a hoyt
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of strom thurmond's america speaks to? we remember -- a lot of us remember who strom thurmond was. he was the 1948 dixiecrat presidential candidate. he was one of the lead authors of the 1956 southern manifesto, which is the protests of the supreme court's decision in the brown versus board of education decision in 1954. strom thurmond is the record holder to this day of the longest one-man filibuster. at it in the guinness book of record wards, 24 hours and 18 minutes he spoke against then 1957 civil rights bill. we remember strom thurmond as one know last of the jim crow demagogues. but what we forget about thurmond, he was also one of the first of the sun belt conservatives.
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what die mean by -- what do i mean? the sun belt -- it's one of the major stories in the history of 20 until century american politics, and that is the flow of jobs, of industries, of resources and populations, from the states of the northeast and the midwest to the south and southwest,, in the post world wr ii period. southern states were recruiting industries, passing right-to-work laws. they were receiving lots of funding from the federal government to build military installations at a time when the united states was involved in the cold war against the soviet union. so, states like mississippi, states like georgia and texas and florida and southern california and arizona, north carolina, are all being transformed in the post world war ii period by this historic shift in population and political influence. just think about it. this real -- this period from
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1964 to 2008 could be thought of as kind of the period of the sun belt dominance in american presidential history. you think about every president elected from 1964 to 2008 comes from a state of the sun belt, lyndon johnson, texas. richmond nixon, california. gerald ford, was not elected. so he doesn't count. he was from michigan. jimmy carter from georgia. ronald reagan from california. the first george bush from texas via connecticut. bill clinton from arkansas and the second bush from texas. so 2008 in some ways watershed election. ends the 40-year period of sun belt dominance. and there were issues that were critical in the politics that developed, that came out of the sun belt. they tended to have a conservative cast to them. tended to be oriented around issues of strong national defense, of an opposition to unions and a defense of free enterprise politics. and also it's in the sun belt in the south and southwest, that we
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see the rise of what -- by the 1970s we'll be talk about as the religious right. the rise of evangelical involvement in the process. so national defense, he was a staunch anticommunist and played an important role in right wing anticommunist politics in the late 1960s, one of the things that led him to switch parties in 1964. he was a key figure in opposing labor unions and did so long people like barry gold water. early in his career he was a staunch advocate of unions in south carolina, back in the 30s and 40s, when the union vote was an important vote in south carolina, but he switches in the '50s and 60s and by 1970s becomes a die hard supporter of business against labor. then he also has an important
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roll in conservative evangelical politics. he joins the board of bob jones university in 1950. he does it to win votes, and the upcountry of south carolina. bob jones just moved to his university, and thurmond needed votes. lost the race to the senate. and that began a long process, a long relationship with thurmond with conservative, fundamentallallesses looking to get involved in the political process. so we need to understand thurmond's racial politics in the midst of these other conservative causes, these conservative issues that he was very involved with, and to see how they intersect with one another. and i think doing so gives us a history of what strom thunder thurmond's ameri
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